Energy

Renewable electricity has nearly trebled under this government.

said Ed Davey, Liberal Democrat energy and climate change minister, during an environment debate held by the Daily Politics show.

Amid the climate of mistrust about claims made by politicians that tends to accompany election campaigns, it is reassuring to report that the evidence supports the minister’s statement.

James Hansen, a former head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies who was one of the first scientists to raise concerns about global climate change, spoke at MIT Tuesday in the biennial David J. Rose Lecture, sponsored by the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering (NSE).

 Hansen came to prominence in the late 1980s, when he first testified before Congress about the perils of accumulating carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
A breakthrough in artificial photosynthesis has been achieved with the development of  a hybrid system of semiconducting nanowires and bacteria that can capture carbon dioxide emissions before they are vented into the atmosphere and then, powered by solar energy, convert that carbon dioxide into valuable chemical products, including biodegradable plastics, pharmaceutical drugs and liquid fuels. 

The system mimics the natural photosynthetic process by which plants use the energy in sunlight to synthesize carbohydrates from carbon dioxide and water but this artificial photosynthetic system synthesizes the combination of carbon dioxide and water into acetate, the most common building block today for biosynthesis.

The cost of batteries is one of the major hurdles standing in the way of widespread use of electric cars and household solar batteries. By storing surplus energy, batteries allow households to reduce power bought from the electricity grid. Unfortunately, batteries have so far been prohibitively expensive.

But research published recently in Nature Climate Change Letters shows battery pack costs may in some cases be as low as US$300 per kilowatt-hour today, and could reach US$200 by 2020. This cost development is notably cheaper and faster decreasing than I and many others expected.

Researchers have made a significant breakthrough in the development of synthetic pathways that will enable renewable biosynthesis of the gas propane. 

Natural metabolic pathways for the renewable biosynthesis of propane do not exist but scientists at the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology (MIB), Imperial College and University of Turku have developed an alternative microbial biosynthetic pathway to produce renewable propane.
In 2005, environmentalists got what they and former Vice-President Al Gore had lobbied for since the late 1980s; federal subsidies to commercialize biofuels. Mr. Gore later admitted that he was just endorsing biofuels to get corn belt votes for his presidential run and few academic scientists had publicly disagreed because, well, they voted for him.

The result of the last corporate subsidy effort: Corn and soy growers have been happy, to be sure, but poor people got rising food costs and biofuels remain even more of a net penalty to the environment than regular gasoline.
New research shows bacteria can use tiny magnetic particles to effectively create a 'natural battery.' The bacteria can load electrons onto and discharge electrons from microscopic particles of magnetite. This discovery holds out the potential of using this mechanism to help clean up environmental pollution, and other bioengineering applications. 

Researchers from the University of Tübingen, the University of Manchester, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, USA, incubated the soil and water dwelling purple bacteria Rhodopseudomonas palustris with magnetite and controlled the amount of light the cultures were exposed to.
A day after Playstation announced that their players are finally getting an update which will allow them to quickly switch from Rest Mode to powered-up, a feature already available on Xbox, the National Resources Defense Council announced that Xbox players are killing Gaia.


The solar eclipse due to cover much of Europe on March 20 will be the continent’s first for 16 years.

Back in 1999, as people stopped staring at the sun and got back on with their day they caused a power surge which still stands as a UK record – greater than anything after a football match or royal wedding.

Planning permission has been given for what could become the world’s largest offshore wind farm on the Dogger Bank, off England’s east coast.

If fully constructed, the project will have up to 400 turbines with a total generation capacity of 2.4 GW. That’s enough to power 1.9 million households – more than Manchester and Birmingham combined.